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CHALLAH AT ‘YA BOY: The Collegiate Guide to Festive Bread

RECIPE: Challah Bread

If you’re in the baking mood, give this recipe a try. Jews and non-Jews alike are sure to enjoy this sweet twist on a Sabbath classic. The trick is the addition of a little extra sugar and an egg-yolk glaze. This challah recipe is cheap to make and heavenly. And, while it’s not exactly a quick fix, it is well worth the time.

Yield: 1 large loaf

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 5 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. (2 pouches) rapid rise/bread machine yeast
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Cooking spray (Pam, etc.)
  • Poppy seeds (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

PREPARATION:

  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, the yeast and salt. Whisk together until ingredients are evenly dispersed.
  2. Soften butter or margarine and add to bowl.
  3. While stirring, add the hot water. It should be slightly hotter than you’d feel comfortable bathing in, but not so hot as to burn you immediately. Beat the contents of bowl vigorously for 1 minute.
  4. Separate one yolk and set aside for the glaze.
  5. Lightly beat the remainder of the eggs (3 plus the fourth egg white) and add to bowl slowly while stirring.
  6. Beat vigorously with whisk for two minutes.
  7. Add remaining flour and stir with wooden spoon, but add flour ¼ cup at a time, incorporating into dough until it becomes too hard to do with a spoon.
  8. When dough separates from the bowl while stirring, it is ready for kneading.
  9. Knead on floured board with floured hands. Add ~1 tablespoon of flour at a time, as needed, if dough is too sticky. It should be silky and slightly tacky, but not sticky.
  10. Clean bowl (wash and dry), and then spray inside with cooking spray.
  11. Take the ball of dough, place in oiled bowl and roll around so bottom gets covered in oil. Spray top lightly with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and then set aside for one hour or until roughly double in volume. Do not refrigerate! The yeasts require a warm environment to facilitate the bread rising process.
  12. Then, remove from bowl and place dough on countertop. Knead for a few seconds, just to ensure there are no large air pockets.
  13. Cut into pieces of equal size and braid into a loaf (or a few smaller loaves). The braiding can be done in as few as 3 strands or as many as desired. For directions on how to braid bread, follow the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22p3wIHLupc

Place loaf on greased cooking sheet and let rise for an additional 40 minutes.

  1. When there are 10 minutes remaining for the loaf to rise, preheat oven to 400˚ F.
  2. GLAZE: Mix together remaining egg yolk. Add 1 tablespoon cold water and 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir ingredients well.
  3. With pastry brush, apply glaze gently to challah. Sprinkle top with optional poppy and/or sesame seeds.
  4. Bake at 400˚ F for 25-40 minutes, until a rich golden-brown on top. When done, a toothpick inserted completely into the thickest part of the loaf should come out dry.
  5. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack (braids are loose when bread is hot).
  6. Let cool completely and enjoy!
Recipe courtesy Bernard Clayton, adapted by Gabriel Spieler
– Article & Photos by Gabriel Spieler
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